Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Times Of Our Lives

He was driving out to meet with his childhood friends for their monthly luncheon. They all grew up in a neighborhood that had it's meeting place in the school yard. The grammar school gathered all from the neighborhood into one place before entering classes. There were gym classes which usually consisted of playing handball, basketball and in the Spring and Fall softball tournaments of a sort which usually culminated with 8A playing 8B. Yes that is correct classes were six months broken into A & B rather than one year. This meant if someone fell behind they could only be left back 6 months and the reverse is true also, sort of what God intended or at least they thought so. After school everybody met in the schoolyard after going home and changing clothes into ones that could get roughed up or torn without a mother thinking her budget was falling apart. They stayed there until Pop would come home from work and dinner would be served.

The schoolyard was an eco system existing apart from the other system outside the school yard. It had it's own rules and regulations understood by all who participated in this eco system which excluded grown-ups and all parents.  While the guys who attended the monthly luncheon might not have hung around together some did and some knew who all the other guys, AND girls were. The girls didn't hang out in the school yard because it wasn't considered a thing "nice" girls did at that time. But not all the girls remembered at the luncheon were really "nice" girls but ones remembered fondly. It was a great neighborhood to grow up in and really brought a feeling of camaraderie with it that carried forward into adult-hood even after one left the neighborhood for many years. This is what kept bringing these guys together month after month the school-yard, the neighborhood the shared memories and experiences that only those whose childhood was spent there understood. In a sense once they got together it was as if they never left the old neighborhood.

He got to the restaurant a little late as traffic was heavy. As he approached the table he noticed it was sparsely attended. As they got older the group got less. Natural progression he thought. A couple of guys had passed, one moved away to experience the warmer climate of Florida another went to Arizona. Two had spouses that weren't feeling well while one guy had the beginning of Alzheimer's. Counting himself there were eight guys for the gathering which was OK too, each guy will be able to talk to the other one with a smaller crowd. The food was good. The conversation lively full of the usual lies of how well they played ball and how many of the hometown girls they left by the wayside. All eight seemed to get into the last conversation they were having before leaving which seemed to be dwelling on "the good old days". It seemed that they were saying that when they were young only good things happened and those were the best times of their lives.

He became quiet and listened to the guys talk about their missed chances for a better life and times gone by never to be recaptured. Finally he just had to speak. He caught the attention of one of the most expressive speakers and said, "You got it all wrong. The good old days weren't all good. We only remember the good things and discard the bad sort of like the Golfer after completing his round only talks of the good shots but never seems to remember the bad ones. The thing is we talk as if the best time was we ever had was past. The times ahead look murky and we disregard the present. I suggest you guys chew on this a bit. The past is gone never to be recaptured which means we should remember what made us the people we are that is for sure. BUT the past is over, gone, never to be recaptured. Something to be treasured but not to be the basis of our being. The future hasn't occurred yet and who knows what is in store for us. Certainly, if ten years ago we tried to look into the future we would never have guessed we'd be in the position we find ourselves in today. The best time of our lives therefore is now because that is the only time we have, NOW! The past is gone. The future is uncertain. Now is the time for us and now is the best time for us.".

They shook hands and decided on the day they would meet the next month. As he drove home he was happy because he understood that the people in his life now were the people that could share the laughter, the joys, the loves that life has to offer and the pain too because it is no good to suffer pain alone. He was anxious to be able to share his love of the "NOW" with the people who share his present. And most of all he wanted his love to know that she contributed to the best times of his life. NOW! The only time that really matters because it is the only time we have given to us, to live.

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